King County has turned the former Econo Lodge in Kent into a quarantine facility for people with the coronavirus. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

King County has turned the former Econo Lodge in Kent into a quarantine facility for people with the coronavirus. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Judge denies city of Kent temporary restraining order to stop quarantine facility

Former Econo Lodge motel will be limited to 15 people

A King County Superior Court judge on Friday denied a temporary restraining order against King County filed by the city of Kent to halt the opening of a public health coronavirus quarantine facility.

The Office of King County Executive Dow Constantine released the following statement after the ruling:

“On March 1, Executive Constantine issued a proclamation of emergency allowing King County to take extraordinary measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, including acquiring property essential for public health. To quickly set up housing for those recovering from sickness or directed by Public Health – Seattle & King County to remain in isolation, King County is prioritizing locations that meet Public Health’s requirements.

“The motel in Kent was the only site on the market that included separate HVAC in each unit, and separate doors to the outside. Kent is one of four sites across the region pressed into service in the fight against COVID-19. The others include: Interbay, North Seattle, and White Center.

“King County will continue to identify and acquire properties in all parts of the county to ensure residents, including health care workers and first-responders who come into contact with COVID-19, are housed appropriately.”

Kent Mayor Dana Ralph’s office released this statement:

“The mayor is disappointed in the ruling but grateful the court recognizes our serious concerns. The ruling allows the county to house up to 15 people at the public health quarantine facility. We will continue our fight in court next week and are hopeful for a positive outcome. We are still confident a solution can be reached if the county applies for the proper permits and agrees to reasonable conditions for public health and safety.”

Ralph on Friday directed the city attorney to file a temporary restraining order against King County government in an effort to prevent the opening of a public health coronavirus quarantine facility at the former Econo Lodge, 1233 Central Ave. N. The county purchased the motel for $4 million this week.

“They (King County) have failed to secure permits and address the city’s serious concerns about public safety,” Ralph said.

The mayor decided to take the court action after hearing the county planned to house as many as two people at the facility starting Friday night.

Alex Fryer, director of communications for Constantine, said in an email Friday that he didn’t have many details about the operation of the facility, but sent the following list:

• Fridges and microwaves added to each room

• Transportation will be provided to and from the facility

• There will be security provided onsite

• People staying at facility will be closely monitored, food and groceries delivered

Fryer said more details will be released next week.

Two county employees were at the former motel on Friday evening but said they couldn’t comment to the media. The motel had not yet been fenced off as requested by Ralph, who said the county told her they would fence the facility.

Ralph declares emergency

The mayor also signed a proclamation on Friday declaring a state of emergency in the city in response to COVID-19 (the coronavirus). The proclamation allows the mayor to exercise emergency powers to coordinate government resources in the event a response is needed to this public health crisis.


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